The Metal Element



THE METAL PHASE: As autumn arrives, the plant gives its last essence to the few remaining tomatoes to produce seeds for the next cycle, as leaves and stalk wither.

AND FUTURE continued

By Pat Gorman with Stephen Flores
Photos by Stephen Flores

The Metal Element

Following the late summer, the humidity disappears, the days shorten, and the air has the crisp dry scent of autumn, the final phase of the cycle, governed by the metal element. There are two strong aspects to this moment in time that stands between life and death.

On the one hand there is the purity of the air we breathe in now, which connects us to the spiritual part of ourselves. The word “inspire” is appropriate here, as autumn is often full of inspiration and a kind of awakening of spirit.

On the other hand, this purity is created by all that is no longer needed falling away—a kind of beautiful death all around us as nature turns its brilliant colors for a moment before withdrawing into the dormancy of winter. So autumn is also a time when regrets, remorse, and grief from the past will surface. And the question now is, can we let go, be stripped back to our bare essence, to what is truly valuable, or are we going to try to hold on to what is past and done? The linear perspective of loss is so permanent that we often cling to everything from money to outworn relationships. If we let go, what will fill the void?

If we have followed the year’s cycle thus far: rested and been energized in winter, changed and grown in the spring, experienced joy and interaction in summer, and felt nurtured and had a harvest in late summer—if we have done all that, and remember that the cycle will come around again, then it is much easier to let go.

If we look at nature, we see what happens. The tiny, valuable seeds, the end result of a whole year’s activity, are all that will remain, and even they dry out. Over the winter they will fill with water and burst forth in spring, creating new life. The seeds are like our experiences. The physical reality may fall away, people may leave or die. But our experiences, like precious seeds, stay with us, gradually turning into our wisdom. And in this way, every experience of our life becomes our teacher, gradually turning us into a person of wisdom to whom others can turn for inspiration and understanding of life.

Ways in which we can really make the metal season of autumn come alive for us include picking a part of our life, however small, to clean out. It may be a closet, it may be a misunderstanding with someone from whom we’ve become alienated. Clean out this one thing, and your body, mind and spirit will begin to let go.

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